Sunday, December 30, 2012

Grief and Fear

"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear" 
These are the first words in C.S. Lewis' book A Grief Observed.  I have found this to be true over and over again in life - fear follows and accompanies grief so easily.  Whether I've been grieving the loss of my husband, a dream, a job, my comfort, a relationship, or about anything else...I am tempted to fear. And it can be consuming. Why is it that fear is such a natural companion to grief?  It's fear of the future, fear of the present, fear that things will never change, fear that there isn't a plan, and fear that I've messed everything up.  Angie Smith says in her book What Women Fear, "It's so easy to fear we've ruined something beautiful."  I think this is so true of women.  This is so true of me.

Perhaps, the root of all of this is the fear that the best is behind me. 

The best is behind me?  What a horrible thought. 
But when I think about those times when I'm engrossed in fear, often this thought is at the root of what scares me so readily.

The enemy loves this fear.  It paralyzes and lives in complete opposition to trusting and abiding in Jesus.  Sorrow can exist in communion and in abiding/trusting in Christ...Fear cannot.  First John 4:18 says "There is no fear in love...."
You can be sad and trust, but you cannot fear AND trust.  One or the other.  Trust OR Fear.  Which one will it be.?

While holding sorrow and grieving anything in life - big or small, it's imperative that I hold it, feel it, and experience it in the context of this full trust and surrender.  Trusting that the best is not behind me.  Trusting that the best is yet to come.  Trusting that there is still life to be had and it will be beautiful. 

Along with this, I believe that God is often telling me to be still and let HIM fight.  Exodus 14:14 says, "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."  This verse has come to my mind over and over at various times this past year, and it's not a verse that I have thought of much at other times in my life.  I am a woman of action.  I don't like to be idle.  I am a fighter.  A scrapper.  Recently, though, in my relationship with Jesus, I feel Him telling me to sit back, be still, and let Him fight my battles for me.  He brings me to the end of my wisdom, my knowledge, my striving and says "Ok.  Now lay that all down and watch me work." 

This requires a ruthless trust...and I want to have that.  I want to trust that he has the answers.  That he is all powerful, and will work all things for my good.  That he can fix my mistakes and the mistakes of others.  That he can redeem all things.  That I need not fear anything.

I don't know what my life will look like at the end of this next year.  But I hope  - oh I hope - that I am a women who trusts more fiercely and rests more fully in the ONE who is over all things....
and knows my name.

New Year's Goals 2012

Well I'd like to look at all my goals from last year and say that I met them all...however....
I lost my list of  goals and therefore can't remember what they were...ooops.

I DO remember a couple, though.

#1 - Take guitar lessons.  CHECK.  Did it.  I'm not saying I'm good at it yet, but I did take some lessons.  Thank you Jon Stankorb.

#2 - Run a race at an 8:30 mile pace.  CHECK.  Did it.  I wasn't sure I was going to make that one...I was running MUCH slower even through the summer.  I decided to join a Bob Ronker's Running Group in late summer to train for the Thanksgiving Day race.  My intent was to run with fast people and therefore become fast. 
I must say that it actually worked.
At the beginning of the training I had to choose whether I was going to go with the "normal" group of runners and be at the front of the pack, or run with the "competitive" group of runners and be last nearly every run.  I chose the latter, and it made all the difference.  I would show up, leave with the fast group, and just decide that I would keep running with them until they kicked me out due to my inability to keep up adequately.  I could barely talk while running with them.  It was not comfortable.  But at the Cyclones 5K, I met my goal and ran an 8:16 pace!  Thank you Ronkers!  And thank you fast people for not kicking me out of the  group :)

Coming soon will be a list of goals for 2013.  Please don't get excited.  They will be ridiculously easy to achieve.  And I might even put a goal on there that I've already accomplished so that I can start the year out feeling successful :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I watched a video the other day about God.  In it there was a boy riding in the back seat of a car - the windows were down, his hand was out the window, and his hair was blowing from the wind of the drive.  The sun was shining low in the sky as if it were early evening, and the mood was reminiscent of  childhood days from many years ago.  The narrator was talking about what it means to be "home" - wherever you are...what it means to be a child of God, and to know it deeply in your soul - to feel taken care of, loved, and desired. 

Something about seeing that boy sitting in the backseat of the car moved me....and I think it's because I do what he was doing so well.  I am a GOOD GREAT rider.  I love to ride with my hand out the window, my face to the sun, and my hair blowing in the breeze.  I love the ride.  I love not being in charge.  I love getting to enjoy the scenery without a care about where I'm going or how to get to where I'm going.  This is somewhere in the core of who I am.

But the reality is that I've had precious few years where that was my life.  For most of my life I've been alone.  Independent.  This is not because it's what I desire as it may be for some.  This is just because it's been my lot in life.  I envy those who've had someone to take care of them since they were in their early 20's or even before.  I wonder at what it must feel like to not have to think about getting the oil checked in your car....or your gutters cleaned...or how you're going to move that big piece of furniture into the house.  I marvel at the people who've never touched a weed whacker, or a furnace, or a power drill.  I wish that were my life...I can't imagine how it must feel to know that someone else is going to take care of it without my having to ask, inconvenience, pay for it, or do it myself.  That world simply is just not mine to know.

This reality is probably why when I met my late husband, I told him "I will ride with you as far as you want to drive..."  and I would've ridden with him forever. With him, for the first time since childhood, I could finally relax - because someone else was going to take care of it....whatever "it" was. I felt beautiful in that I was being who I was meant to the world a better version of myself....a truer version of myself.
The bottom line....I didn't have to be in charge anymore.

This reality is also why I remember after his death grieving very specifically that I was going to have to drive everywhere.  And it broke my heart.

So when my discussion group finished the video with the boy riding in the car, we were asked how it touched or moved us.  My first thought (that I of course emphatically said out loud) was "I hate driving."  To which they (and I) laughed - because it really did seem horribly shallow considering the depth of the video. 

However, I believe that is exactly the point.

Although there are realities to my life that are real and unavoidable - I do have to drive - to work, to church, to the grocery store, etc.  I do have to mow my grass, pay the bills, change light bulbs, and decide what I'm doing and how to spend my time...

...but this DOES NOT have to be my life spiritually.  In my walk with Jesus I get to ride.  I get to be that little child sitting in the passenger seat with my hand out of the window; basking in the sun and the fresh air.  I get to let Him decide.  I get to allow Him to take care of me.  My only job is to be in car....just to stay in the car and enjoy the ride.  To Abide.  When he turns, I turn.  When he moves, I move. When he stops, I stop. 

But none of this is ultimately my decision... I hear his whisper, "Do you trust me?  Just ride."

This metaphor is so freeing to me.  It releases my soul to rest, and it refurbishes the beauty that he has created and is creating in me.  God is challenging me to trust him and allow him to be God - the lover of my soul...the one who redeems and frees me.

Make me, Lord, a woman who trusts. 

I want to be a woman who has the sun and the wind in her face...and who rides.

*  For the "Riding" Video, copy and paste

Monday, November 12, 2012


It seems there's been a theme in my life lately...and that theme is Vision.  I go through periods of time when my focus is clear, there is mass purpose in my days, and I am thrilled about the adventure God wants me to be a part of...

But then I also go through times when I'm in the hum-drum of daily life.  I am tired, overwhelmed, confused, and doubtful.  I lose sight of the adventure.  I lose sight of the passion and mystery.  In those places it seems that life has clouded out his vision...and I want it back.  Desperately.  I want purpose beyond measure.  I want adventure beyond normal.   I want a life that matters, and matters deeply.  I want to live beyond myself.

God is waking me up.  He's been reminiscing to me that He has severe purpose in my life.  He's been reminding me of the passions in my heart.  He is renewing my longing to pray and seek the adventure.  He's telling me that in those places where I see a need and am absolutely wrecked - in those places where I stand weeping and overcome with emotion - that GOD is in that wrecking...and he wants me to act.

I ran across a video today that touched my heart.  In this idea of vision, it spoke to me about the place of sacrifice.  It spoke to me about a child's heart.  I hope it speaks to you too.

All I know is that I want there to be no other explanation for my life, other than the power of God working in me.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Things I Love - Number 4

Things I Love #4 - Salsa Dancing + Fountain Square + Nathalie Hayes + Orange Slushies

Have you been to Fountain Square in the summer?  Oh man, it's a serious treat - and one of the things that makes Cincinnati in the summer so fantastic.  Every night in the summer, they have a particular type of event. Most nights consist of a concert...various evenings of the week have various styles of bands.  It's kinda nice as you can choose the type of music you'd like to hear and head down on that night. Sunday night has a bit of a different flavor as it is movie night.  A movie is projected onto the big, huge screen that's up high in the sky.  That's a fun night for sure.  On of my favorite nights, however, is Thursday night Salsa dancing!

At Salsa on the Square there are dancers who teach you how to salsa from the stage.  I so enjoy seeing the totally random crowd of people all standing in front of the stage, uninhibited, trying to salsa dance.  The dancers go step by step, teaching us various moves to try.  I marvel at the fun moves.  I marvel at the teachers' great legs... After the lesson, the latin band comes up to play and everyone gets down to business trying to incorporate what has been learned.  There is smiling.  There is laughing.  There is  ridiculously bad talent, many who know a little, and a few people who actually know what they're doing.  Regardless, it really seems that nobody cares.  There are people of poverty.  There are people of wealth...and everything in between.  There are Black people, White people, Hispanic people, and I believe I've even seen Indian people.  I consider this one of the most diverse events in our city...perhaps THE most diverse event.  I love seeing all walks of life in the same space, smiling, dancing, trying something new, and enjoying a great summer evening with friends in this great city called Cincinnati.  It's spectacular.

The last time I went was with Nathalie why did I add her to my list of what I love?  First of all, I just love Nathalie...but beyond that, I was SO thrilled to see that I had come with a friend who seriously had no inhibition to trying salsa dancing.  Because she was so willing and excited to do it, we had a total blast.  Nathalie has such a great ability to throw caution to the wind and just go for it.  I love that about her.  We did some serious dancing and laughing - and burned some calories to boot.

In addition to our dancing, we found a little shop that had some slushie machines.  Talk about Jackpot!  We both got an orange slushie and then sat by the iconic fountain on the square - savoring the amazing summer treat on a hot night.  And then...on to more dancing.

What a fun evening?!  What incredible community event?!  What a great place in our city?!  This is why Salsa + Fountain Square + Nathalie Hayes + Slushies ended up on my list of things I love.

You really must go this summer!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Things I Love - Number 3

#3 - The Flying Pig Marathon!

When I think of the things I love most about this city, the Flying Pig Marathon is up at the top of the list.  And with the 5K and 10K on Saturday, in addition to the full and half marathon on Sunday, it consumes a good part of my first weekend in May each year...and my life is most definitely better because of it.  This year I watched the participants of the Step Forward Team run the Saturday races...what a FUN day!  It's such a joy to see people involved in these races....the sense of community, the is beautiful.  There's something great about watching people run towards the finish line while cheering your guts out.  There is something great about watching people run, push through pain, and go through a finish line....I think that will always be something worth seeing...

Not only do I love cheering on my family and friends, I am always moved by the people who complete this with disabilities.  I stand in awe as I watch young boys and girls cross the finish line with physical and even mental limitations.  I watch the people who do this race with them and marvel at the love, kindness, and sacrifice of these people...I love it when people buck the system - the system that says what you can and can't do in this life - the system that says what you are and aren't capable of.  These people show their strength, character, and courage just by being in this race.

There is one man in particular who completes this race with a severe disability.  This was not the first year it was completed by him...I saw him last year too, and I'm pretty sure, last year wasn't his first year either.  He moves with a walker and an assistant.  Every step is a struggle and it takes him a painfully long time to move one foot in front of the other.  I've heard they allow him more than one day to work on the course, and by the day of the race, he completes the final stretch.  It is beautiful.  It is amazing. It's emotionally riveting.  The announcer, yells for him.  He is known in that race.  He is brave.  He is courageous.  He is a hero.  And HIS race, is not about's about defying the odds, perseverance, redemption...among other noble things no doubt.  Our lives are better just by watching him.  To Brad Fritz - thank you.  You are an inspiration.

Sunday, the day of the race, comes and at 5:30 a.m. I am in the Target parking lot by my house catching a ride downtown with a few others.  We arrive downtown and in the dark there are people all around - excited, milling, running, stretching, parking...the energy is unmistakable.  The four of us walk towards the race, chattering excitedly about it.   I stop to pee behind a dumpster (who wants to wait for a port-o-pot?), and then we head to our "pig pens", which is the spot where we are supposed to start the race.  The other 3 I'm with are in an entirely different "pen" than me, so I say goodbye to them and then continue on another 100 yards or so to my "pen".  I enter my designated area and wait among other excited runners to start the race.  I am alone, and for a brief moment I feel some sadness over not standing with someone at the start...but then as I look around, I let go of my aloneness and celebrate the massive community of which I am a part in that moment.  We are waiting in anticipation.  We are excited.  We are doing something that many people will never do.  We are blessed.  They start the announcements.  A former winner speaks.  A local priest prays.  And once Katy Perry "Fireworks" starts playing loudly over the speakers, I can hardly contain my joy!  I stand there a part of a large community, downtown in the city that I dearly love - the city to which I have been called, and in that moment I am happy. Really, really happy.

I love really happy moments.

The race was a success.  The course was finished.  I had a medal.  And I ran it within the time I had hoped for.  I am thankful.  Really, really thankful.

Recap Video -

This...and many more details that I did not why I love the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon.  Someday maybe you can join me on that start line.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Things I Love - Number 2

#2 - The Stepping Forward Team

In Cincinnati, the Flying Pig is one of the most cherished events of our city.  I love this event - the energy, the pink, the pigs, the history, the running, the's fantastic.

There is a particular group that trains for this race each year that I am growing to love more and more...
The Stepping Forward Team!  This team consists of the men and women in City Gospel Mission's addiction recovery programs as well as the volunteers running alongside them to cheer them on and help them achieve this goal.  We run in Over-the-Rhine each Wednesday and Saturday.  I am encouraged by these men and women.  They have walked through so much in their lives.  They have taken the step to clean up their lives.  They are warriors. 

I have so much respect for what they have done and continue to do to progress their healing.  They leave their families, their jobs, everything...and go to live in a location for 12-18 months in order to recover.  A couple weeks ago I walked with a lady named Jennifer.  She has a boy who is around 10 years old...and he is living with the father right now while she heals.  How difficult?  To lose a year and a half of your child's life?  Of course, she does it because she wants a better life for him -  and being clean and sober will certainly mean that in his life...but still, I can't imagine that makes it much easier to do.

I think of Sue, who spoke one Saturday before our run.  She started her speech with "I've been running all my life...running from my responsibilites as a wife and mother...etc."  She first heard of the Stepping Forward Team while in jail as a heroine addict.  The next year, she was running WITH the team.  Today, she is an absolute inspiration to  all who have the privilege to know her. 

Knowing these men and women, running with them, talking to them, hearing them tell their inspires me.  I am better because of it.  I am less alone in the struggles and lonliness of my life.  I have more courage to face my own challenges.  It is an absolute HONOR to be called their friend and to get to partner with them in this beautiful journey of healing and restoration. 

I am... STRONG
We are ...STEP FORWARD!!!!!!!!

If you are downtown May 5th or 6th for some of the Flying Pig races, listen for our cheer.  You might just be inspired too...

Sue's interview

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Things I Love - Number 1

I've decided to start a series of blogs entitled "Things I Love"...

Number 1 - Ault Park in the spring

...and the summer, and the winter, and the fall...

I love Ault park.  When God gave me this house, I had no idea that there was a little hiking trail from my neighborhood that connected to Ault park and the hiking trails there.  I can imagine God in His abundant love sitting back and thinking..."Oh man, she's going to LOVE this!"...and I do.  I really, really do.

I have spent many hours hiking through those trails with Tucker - sometimes crying my eyes out, sometimes praying, sometimes crying and praying...sometimes smiling, sometimes with incredible peace, sometimes just talking to God, and sometimes absolutely amazed by His beauty and creation.  Sometimes I walk with friends, sometimes I jog, sometimes I sit on logs and just think.  Sometimes I meet people, sometimes I run into neighbors, sometimes I run hills, and I've even sat on benches and journaled.
I hike in the snow, I hike in the cold, I hike in the blazing heat, I hike in the mud, I've been in the rain...I've even hiked there with a broken foot :) 

Often a latte is in my hand.

I remember the first time I walked through the trails and came out onto the clearing on a spring day and realized that the entrance to this park has about 40 weeping cherry trees lining both sides of the road.  They nearly take your breath away when in bloom.  I was unsuspecting...the green grass, the blue sky, and this field of trees with gorgeous light pink blooms draping down can almost bring you to tears. 

Just yesterday I hiked up there and realized they were in bloom!  I saw a person trying to take a picture and I wanted to yell "Don't even try!  It's not going to come close to capturing it!"  Instead I walked up towards the trees with Tucker and marveled at this little piece of heaven on earth.  When I started towards home, I decided that instead of taking a straight line, I would walk under every single blooming tree on my side of the I meandered from tree to tree counting as I walked - 21 trees.

Thank you God for creating weeping cherry trees...and this beautiful park that I love so dearly.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Abundantly Free

There are many things that we can fear in life... and it's true that reality can be excrutiating.   But something I've realized that I am most tempted to fear is not specific situations in life, but rather I fear that I will be left in a state of confusion and indecision.  It's very possible that I might fear this more frequently than anything else in life.  I worry that God will place options before me, and then will say "Well, make a choice."....and I'll be confused, with no clear direction or feeling about where I should go. 

This really makes absolutely no sense because nothing in my past reflects this happening...I've always been given directions/inclinations/hearts desires that helped me know what decision I needed to make when I needed to make it.  With this kind of track record...why IS it that I fear this?  At the very root of it, I know it's a lack of trust in God's abundance and goodness.  It stems from a doubt that he does indeed have a plan and that the plan is good.  It's a fear that I will be left on my own to figure life out.  This is bad, bad, bad.

So I've made a decision in my decision making...when making life choices (small or large) I will choose what most leads to abundant freedom.  I believe God is a God of abundance.  His plan is not 75% good - rather, it far exceeds expectations every time.  I also believe he is a God who wants me to be free.   I need to make choices that lead to freedom in my heart and soul.  In considering these parameters, I certainly know that detemining what is abundant and free MUST involve more than the immediate...I'm not talking about abundance or freedom for THIS that case I would quit my job every time it bogged me down and didn't meet my expectations.  No, instead, this is abundance and freedom in a place of long-term consideration...a place of wisdom and discernment.

I, once again, surrender myself today to God's power in living a life free of walking more living more freely. 
Abundant Life.